Audio dropouts on Roku, DVR, and Pandora
November 18, 2021 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I have a simple TV and FiOS. The audio periodically drops out for a second or two, while the image continues, unaffected. It happens when playing recorded shows from the DVR, during Pandora streams, or content via apps on the Roku. I have swapped out the Roku and the TV, one at a time, and the problem persists. What else could it be?

I haven't used a different HDMI cable, but digital is digital, right?

The Roku was old, so I tried using a newer model -- but it still happened.

I use a wired Ethernet connection, so it isn't WiFi.

It doesn't occur on a set period, so I don't think it's a buffering thing.

I have the usual Verizon FiOS STB, which I guess I could reboot. I use an alternative DNS provider (, but that shouldn't matter for a DVR stream (because the STB should ignore my network settings when it's using the Coax/fiber backhaul).

What am I forgetting? *sound of remaining hair being torn out*
posted by wenestvedt to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Shitty soldering on the speaker connections?
It sounds like you've eliminated digital issues - how about the analogue side?
That's assuming you're using the speakers in the TV but:

I have swapped out the Roku and the TV

...makes me wonder a bit. Sorry, do you mean a whole other TV? If so, ignore me.
posted by pompomtom at 5:40 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]

I've experienced this with netflix while watching some animated shows on my tv and the problem has been related to the different audio options that netflix has. If I remember, netflix defaults to 5.1 surround and, especially with some animated shows (though it did happen with Squid Game one one episode), it drops out frequently or completely. Switching to the non-5.1 audio fixes it every time. I could have it swapped where it starts non-5.1 and I need to switch to 5.1 to fix it...can't remember exactly, but basically switching to the other english option fixes it.
posted by msbrauer at 5:53 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]

"I haven't used a different HDMI cable, but digital is digital, right?"

The only way to really troubleshoot is to address ever part of the chain. I would definitely swap it out. I had some cheap cables that did weird things (I think I had the opposite issue as you: the picture blacked out but the sound continued), and replacing them took care of the issue.
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:58 AM on November 18 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry, do you mean a whole other TV?

Yep, I dragged our other TV down the hall and switched it for the one that's been there for years.

This all worked for...five years, maybe? without any changes to the hardware or software. Roku pushed out an update that has users complaining, but that shouldn't touch the STB.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:45 AM on November 18

Usually I'd say it was some decoder or streaming bug. Is there an A/V receiver involved? Are you just using the TV's built-in speakers or is something else playing the sound? If there's an A/V receiver it is very likely the culprit; it's probably decoding the digital audio for the speakers.

Definitely try another HDMI cable. Note all HDMI cables aren't the same; any new cable you buy should be "high speed" and/or HDMI 2.1. If your TV 1080p or lower this won't really matter, but if you have a 4K TV with an old cable it could cause a problem like this. Also cables and connections can just go bad, swapping is a quick way to test.
posted by Nelson at 7:04 AM on November 18 [5 favorites]

When Plex stopped working, I started "casting" from my PC to my Roku machine. Sound and video problems since. I just now swapped out the HDMI cable and that seems to have fixed my problem. I hope OP solves his problem as simply. Thanks MeFis.
posted by james33 at 7:21 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]

This is a good puzzle. I like good puzzles.

One factor I think I am slightly confused on: you say you haven't used "a different HDMI cable" which is worded in a way that makes me think there's only one. Is that right? If so, how is this wired together? It sound like there are two separate devices (Roku and STB), which would have two HDMI outputs. Are those separately connected to the TV via two HDMI cables, or is it combined at some point (and if so, how is it combined)?

Do you see similar problems if you play the same video sources on your computer, phone, or tablet?
posted by primethyme at 9:41 AM on November 18

Response by poster: It sound like there are two separate devices (Roku and STB), which would have two HDMI outputs.

That is correct: each of those devices has its own HDMI cable, which has been working well for some time.

That's why I didn't look there as the cause, because both of them suddenly failing seemed unlikely. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:54 AM on November 18

Ok, so you've eliminated the TV, the input devices, the HDMI cables (I agree, it's highly unlikely that both failed in the same way at the same time), the source video service... That leaves, what? The router/gateway/ont (or whatever combination of things FIOS has), something between those things and your video devices, something between those things and the rest of the internet. What else?

In your shoes, I would try:
  • Reboot all network components and video devices.
  • Stream the same things on a computer, tablet or phone to see if the problem persists there.
  • Use something like PingPlotter and/or SmokePing to monitor internet performance and see if any issues there correlate with the video problems.
  • Try default DNS (I know you said it shouldn't effect FIOS; I don't know enough about how FIOS TV works to speak to that, but I would have imagined it would still use IP?).
  • Check the FIOS forums on Reddit and DSLReports for similar issues.
  • Last resort, contact FIOS support, I guess....

posted by primethyme at 10:01 AM on November 18

I have an LG sound bar that has audio dropouts multiple times an hour, but only when tuned to the local FOX affiliate. It seems to lose the digital datastream and mutes while it has to resynchronize.

You're playing the audio directly out of the TV though?
posted by jxyzn at 8:46 PM on November 18

Response by poster: Right, the TV's built-in speakers. It's weird.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:35 AM on November 19

I haven't used a different HDMI cable, but digital is digital, right?

This definitely isn't the case with HDMI. It's such a complicated standard now that devices will fall back to various modes depending on the quality/features of your cable.

Especially if you have a 4k TV. With 4k content you should really be using an HDMI cable specced for 4k60 because otherwise it's more likely to fall back to something worse (lower color depth or 30 fps).
posted by neckro23 at 11:49 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

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